Minister Mangomas trial fails to kick off

elton_mangomaHARARE - The trial of cabinet minister facing corruption charges failed to continue on Monday because the government's top lawyer is travelling out of the country. (Pictured: Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma)

Energy and Power Development Minister Elton Mangoma, who is out on bail on a graft charge over a fuel import deal, appeared at the High Court for the continuation of his trial Monday. High Court judge, Justice Chinembiri Bhunu postponed the matter to next Monday after the government’s chief law officer Chris Mutangadura failed to appear in court.

Mutangadura is said to have travelled to Vienna on government business. It was not immediately clear what exactly Mutangadura was doing in Austria.

Mangoma, a Tsvangirai ally and deputy treasurer of the MDC, is accused of forcing officials to cancel a tender contract for a power supply pre-payment system. Mangoma has pleaded not guilty to the charge.

So far two witnesses have testified in court: permanent secretary in the ministry of Power and Energy Development, Justin Mupamhanga; director of Petroleum in the ministry and Chief Executive Officer of PetroTrade, Griefshaw Revanewako. They have both absolved the minister of any wrongdoing.

Mangoma’s lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa has urged the State to withdraw the charges.

Relations between the coalition rivals have dramatically been aggravated since Mangoma’s arrest at a time the Supreme Court also nullified the election of another Tsvangirai ally, Lovemore Moyo, as Speaker of Parliament. Moyo has since been re-elected.

Police have also rounded up dozens of MDC activists on charges of plotting to topple President Mugabe, Egypt-style.

Critics say Mugabe, 87 who has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980, is employing tough policing to frustrate the MDC and stampede it into an early election. Mugabe wants a freh election this year and his rival Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is calling for elections next year after all the necessary political reforms have been completed.

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